This must be the golden age of monitors. After being stuck at 1980x1080 pixels for what seems like a decade, new monitors are getting larger, sharper, and most important, affordable. The Acer 32-inch WQHD Monitor B326HUL is the size of a second TV, bright and clear and sharp, adjustable in all directions, and has a retail price of only $899.
Not long ago, we reviewed the Planar PXL2790MW, a 27-inch monitor running WQHD (2560x1440 pixels) with text sharp enough to cut diamonds and a huge range of color controls for exacting publishing and technical uses. Unfortunately we can't compare these two side by side, but the Acer's display is bigger and noticeably sharper than normal 1920x1080 monitors, but doesn't have quite the color controls of the Planar. However, one result is exactly the same: Every person who sees this monitor will demand one of their own.
Setup is a snap. After pulling it out of the giant box (get help if you can), all that must be assembled is connecting the base to the pole holding the monitor. Tighten down the screw holding the base to the pole and you're done. Then call your friend back to put the monitor on your desk, because it's large enough to be unwieldy. It's doable by yourself, but help is welcome. Connect via DVI for the highest resolution, but HDMI and four USB 3.0 ports are included, along with one Display Port.
Currently, this is Acer's biggest monitor. The company has another WQHD monitor listed, but it's only 27 inches. Few other vendors offer desktop monitors that match this size, and only a couple are bigger. After this, you're looking at wall-mounted TVs, not desktop monitors. And unless you have a pretty deep desk, you may find yourself leaning way back in your seat to view the B326HUL comfortably.
The B326HUL is balanced so well that adjusting the monitor height, tilt, or rotation is almost a fingertip job. You can raise the monitor 150mm (just under six inches) and tilt it back a fair amount. It actually tilts far enough forward that the bottom of the screen is farther away than the top. Anyone around a small conference table could read PowerPoints from this monitor, saving you the cost of a projector. If you prefer, you can fill the screen with browser windows, documents, images, and video clips.
View this monitor from everywhere and it looks great. When people crowd around your desk to watch the newest kitten video you found on YouTube, people standing up and way to the side will all get a good look. Acer says the monitor has a 178-degree viewing angle, and you can see photos on this screen clearly until you're almost completely off to the side.
Controls cover most every need. The on-off button sits at the very bottom right corner, separated by the on-off-standby light from the other buttons. The green "e" button sets viewing details for the user, but also gives one-touch access to profiles for the default settings (too bright for us), eco-mode, standard, graphics, and movies. Picture controls include the standard brightness and contrast, but adds "colour" temperature from warm to cool to your defined user setting. A 6-axis hue control adjusts red, green, blue, yellow, magenta, and cyan. There are also gamma settings, and sRGB mode for the visually critical or professional users.
The B326HUL includes speakers, as do almost all large flatscreen monitors today. These are better than some, but like most they play out the back of the monitor to keep the bezel as small and thin as possible. However, no self-respecting gamer or person working in audio or video, three great markets for this type of monitor, would rely on speakers like these. Graphic artists? Maybe, but why buy an outstanding monitor and listen to speakers this weak? Treat your ears at least as well as you treat your eyes.
Bottom line? Monitors of outstanding quality are now gentle to your bottom line. All the PC users drooling over Apple's Cinema Display (27 inches and 2560x1440 WQHD display or 30 inches with 2560x1600 pixels) can have a monitor just as good or better. And, with the Acer B326HUL, this PC monitor is bigger and less expensive. Clean your glasses and enjoy.